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Montana Western Students Receive Western Meadowlark Award

The Montana Wildlife Society has recognized a UMW Biology student for contributions to the field of wildlife management and conservation for the second year in a row. Joe Lamb, the 2024 recipient of the society’s prestigious Western Meadowlark Award, and 2023 recipient, Hunter Bugni, have both been recognized for their leadership and academic achievements in the field of wildlife biology.

The Montana Wildlife Society is a professional organization dedicated to the conservation and management of wildlife and their habitats in the state of Montana. It provides a platform for wildlife professionals, researchers, students, and enthusiasts to collaborate, share knowledge, and advocate for the protection of Montana’s diverse wildlife species and ecosystems. The society engages in various activities such as research, education, advocacy, and outreach to promote sustainable wildlife management practices and to ensure the long-term health and viability of Montana’s natural resources.

The Western Meadowlark Award recognizes a student enrolled at one of the four-year Montana universities, with the exception of the University of Montana and Montana State University, who have made outstanding contributions to the field of wildlife management and conservation. Recipients of the Western Meadowlark Award are individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership, and achievement in their work to conserve and manage Montana’s wildlife and their habitats.

“Many wildlife professionals start out as undergraduate researchers. It’s important for student researchers to realize they aren’t ‘just students’ or ‘just interns’ they’re early career scientists contributing to the furtherment and betterment of knowledge in their disciplines. The work they do is important to science, more important than they probably realize, and the Western Meadowlark Award acknowledges these achievements. Hunter and Joe are both promising young scientists, well deserving of this award,” said UMW Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Kyle Richardson.

Hunter Bugni

The 2023 recipient of the award, Hunter Bugni, is a top preforming student in every class he attends. UMW Professor of Biology, Dr. Michelle Anderson, would like to note his focus, discipline, and passion for wildlife biology that put him on a fast-track to complete his degree requirements. This, paired with interdisciplinary thinking, has led to internships working with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Joe Lamb

The 2024 awardee, Joe Lamb, has established himself as a very proficient and active student and researcher. Lamb has undertaken his own research, investigating local rattlesnake behavioral patterns in response to a changing climate. This work will help fill a gap in the current understanding of snake interactions and provide much needed insight into their behavior.

“Montana Western is an institution built around the foundation of experiential learning. Both Hunter and Joe have utilized this methodology by serving as group leaders, motivating and assisting fellow students in learning both in the classroom and in the field,” said Dr. Richardson.

For more information about the University of Montana Western’s academic programs and campus, visit or call 877-683-7331.

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